Big Ten teleconference: Barry Alvarez

Topics included Anthony Davis' return, the development of the defensive line and being "1-0"

Opening statement:

"Last week was a very good win for us. I thought again our defense played particularly well and certainly nice to have Anthony Davis back in the lineup. He brings so much to our offense and gives us great leadership as well. This week we certainly have our hands full playing an excellent Ohio State team in Columbus. We know how difficult a task that will be."

Barry I read where you got a question yesterday about the 1-0 philosophy that this team has bought into. I was wondering if you could describe what that's about and what your thinking was in trying to instill it?

"It all boils down to focus. Many times football teams and players and coaches can get a little ahead of themselves. This is one way of us to say, ‘let's just concentrate on today. Let's concentrate on this week. Regardless of who you played or what you did the previous week, who you play the next week, let's be 1-0 this week and really stay on task to get things done the right way and stay focused on the job at hand and not get any further than that. We really sold it as a staff and used it in a buzz word as we go through the week and I think our kids have really bought into it."

Did it have anything to do with trying to help this team, which is pretty experienced and pretty talented, avoid the second-half slides that you've had the last two years?

"That really never came into play when we initially talked about this. When we sit down in the beginning of the year during two-a-days and sit down and talk about goals and what you want to accomplish with a veteran team and how close we've been and where we've been in the past and how we want to get to our ultimate goal. Actually Bret Bielema was the one that brought it up and brought the term up. We had another term that we used before but we thought this really made sense. It was just more about focus and not getting ahead of ourselves and not so much what has happened in the past."

Did you expect Anthony to have this kind of comeback last week?

"I did. He's been running probably for the last two weeks. I knew he was in good condition. Last week when he got clearance he had a full week of practice and so in our practice early in the week we always go against our own defense in a couple different drills so it allowed him to get banged a little bit. I saw his legs were there and I was just more concerned that he didn't get too anxious. A year ago he did that after missing a few games, came back and I thought he got a little over anxious. My advice to him was ‘let's not try to pick up the yardage you lost in those three games. Let's not try to make it all up in one carry. Let's just play the game, let the game come to you. I really did feel as though he'd have a very good game."

Which of your front four guys do you think has improved the most since they came on campus as freshmen?

"They've all got their own story. ‘Ras' had only played one year of football and I'm guessing was probably 215 pounds. He always could run and was very athletic but he's put on so much strength and become a total football player. Jason Jefferson was really raw when he came on campus, maybe has improved as much just as a total football player as any of them. Jonathan Welsh was a thin athlete, probably 205 pounds when he came on. He has really improved as a technician and got so much stronger. So they've all got their own story and none of them were finished products. Probably the closest finished product was Anttaj."

Do they deserve all the props they are getting right now or is it a case where your linebackers and secondary is getting a little overlooked?

"Our secondary is playing pretty well, our linebackers are improved. But it all starts with them [the defensive line]. I've said that since the first or second game that we've been able to get pressure in some games just with those four rushing. We haven't had to rely on the blitz and when you can do that it allows you do some other things in the back end. It keeps your linebackers alive with the D-linemen attracting more blocks. They certainly deserve thus far all the accolades they've had since they've played very well."

Could you discuss what your position is on this fifth year of eligibility proposal and whether or not you feel like that is something that could be seen in the future?

"There's been a lot of talk about it as you know. I've heard this for probably three or four years in head coaches meetings and we've been split there and Big Ten. My stance has been I've not been in favor of it. It decreases the number of scholarships overall that you have and opportunities for young people. I think when you give a five-year scholarship like that, five years of eligibility, there is sense of entitlement of five years. If there is a player that is not contributing, we'd like for them to graduate in four."

Are you concerned about how this might impact overall graduation rates or are you not as concerned about that?

"Our overall graduation rates, if our players haven't completed their degree, I've got guys coming back from the NFL now. We have a program in place for post-comp aid so that if a former athlete wants to come back and complete his degree or at the end of five years, or four years he hasn't completed his degree we have a program in place so that they have that opportunity."

There are only two guys in the Big Ten averaging 100 yards or better in a game. Do you sense a downward trend in the league when it comes to running overall and why do you think that might be compared to recent years?

"I think there are probably less teams that really want to establish the run first. I think most teams try to be balanced. You see a lot of spread-type teams but yet they are running the ball well. I think defenses really, if you study defenses, defenses really load up now against the run. You see defenses now that several years ago that you didn't see. It is very common to see eight or nine in the box, where it is very difficult to account for all the defenders in the run game. I think that all has played a part in it."

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